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Dragons teach algebra to 1st Class

posted 18 Apr 2015, 07:29 by Gordon Elliott
If you've been in Miss Fair's classroom first thing on a Monday morning you may have wondered what the couple of kids poking at my tablet computer were doing. I've been introducing them to some of the basic principles of algebra through a game called DragonBox.

My goal is to smuggle a little learning in with a really fun activity. If they find algebra a tiny bit easier to understand when they next come across it then that would be a great result.

DragonBox in use
The game consists of a series of little puzzles which each take about half a minute to complete. The children spend about 5 minutes on the tablet before the first lesson. Each week 5 or 6 kids get a go. By the end of the year they should all have had three or four turns.

The puzzles revolve around feeding a cute but toothy baby dragon. The dragon is in a box on one side of the screen. There are other cards on both halves of the screen. When the box is by itself the dragon will come out and gobble up what's remaining on the other side of the screen.

There are simple rules about what you can do to get the box with the dragon by itself. These rules are really the rules of how to manipulate algebraic equations in disguise. For instance, to eliminate a card (positive value) you can drop its night-time (negative value) version on it.

There are typically ten or twelve puzzles of increasing complexity on each rule. There is an optimum way to complete each puzzle but other solutions are accepted and rewarded.

Neither I nor the school are endorsing their products but if you would like to know more, you might like to check out the producer's website: http://wewanttoknow.com/

- Gordon Elliott

#first_class
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